If you're not particularly tech-savvy, the prospect of purchasing, maintaining and securing technology for your business can be confusing and alarming. Though you may have a pretty good idea of what you should do, what about what you should not do?
Everything from not backing up your data, to using social networking tools incorrectly (or not at all), to working with pirated software can affect your bottom line in a bad way. Here are 15 tech mistakes that small businesses frequently commit - and what you need to do to prevent them.
1. Relying too heavily on the cloud
The cloud is an excellent resource for small businesses. It's affordable (for most companies, most of the time), and it allows you to access data when you're away from your office. Relying too heavily on the cloud can be dangerous, however, as it means placing all of your important data in the hands of another company or person.
Even Yahoo's Flickr recently accidentally deleted one user's account - which had over 4000 photos stored on it - due to simple human error. Luckily, Flickr eventually managed to restore the account fully, but you may not be so fortunate.
Though the cloud is a great place to visit, you shouldn't make a permanent home there. Network-attached storage (NAS) drives and cloud storage services including Box.net are among the products that can help you put together a solid storage strategy. Always save your important data in several places, including on physical drives - preferably ones that are virtually indestructible.
2. Failing to back up appropriately
Speaking of backing up data, backup strategies are useless if you don't use them. Unfortunately, many individuals and businesses neglect this crucial step, and sometimes it comes back to bite them. Remember, having a physical hard drive or a cloud-based storage account won't help you if you fail to keep your data backed up and your technology relevant.
The good news is that backup programs will handle the operation for you. Set up frequent, regularly scheduled automated backups for your data, so you don't have to remember to do it manually. The need to establish a good backup strategy is especially critical if you run a small business with no dedicated IT staff to handle the process; data recovery is a painful, expensive process.
3. Not protecting employee's phones
As smartphones get smarter, securing these miniature, pocket-held computers becomes ever more important. Because smartphones carry so much sensitive data, it's crucial to do what you can to prevent both your own and your employees' phones from getting lost or stolen. Huge business secrets have leaked out because thoughtless employees have gotten a little tipsy.
Ensure that your company's smartphones are password-protected (Passwords like '1234' and '9999' don't count), have remote wipe capabilities enabled, and have a secure operating system (BlackBerry allows users to encrypt SD cards, for instance), just in case someone leaves a handset in a bar somewhere. For more-granular controls, check out smartphone management software, such as NotifyMDM.
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